In-game TV shows and radio stations can enhance our enjoyment of their worlds. They can make it feel like these places live beyond what we get to see on-screen, suggesting a cultural history, or allowing them to mirror modern entertainment. And sometimes, it's just good to listen to some absolute banging tunes, because the publisher in question has unimaginably deep pockets.
Below, we've collected a few of our favourite radio stations and TV shows from inside games.
Max Payne 2's Address Unknown
Damn, I love how many TV shows are in Max Payne 2. I stopped and watched every single one on my first two playthroughs. Address Unknown is probably the most notable, since it's part homage to Twin Peaks, part parallel of Max Payne himself, with the heavy-handed monologues and 'Noir York' setting. 'John Mirra', the villain of the piece, is even referenced in the game's theme song, 'Late Goodbye' by Poets of the Fall, and one of the game's best-remembered levels is set inside a theme park based on the fictional TV show.
Lords and Ladies is no slouch, either, and there are four shows in total. Each parallels Max's journey in different ways, with key episodes tying into his relationship with Mona, and his poor decision to turn on a major ally. —Samuel Roberts
Alan Wake's Night Springs
Alan Wake is all about the titular author's work coming to life, and as a result the game is a fun pastiche of a whole bunch of works, including Twin Peaks and the work of Stephen King. Another direct homage comes in the form of Night Springs, the horror show anthology that's as close to The Twilight Zone as The Scary Door is. In 'The Writer' DLC, the series has even been adapted into a game. This level of effort gives Alan Wake's world so much extra life. Like in Max Payne 2, I always have to stop and watch the damn things. —Samuel Roberts
GTA 3's Chatterbox FM
Talk radio stations are a bit of a mixed bag in GTAs 4 and 5, and Chatterbox FM from GTA 3 remains my favourite. Later GTAs are much more in your face with jokes, innuendo and loud satire, whereas Chatterbox is basically just weird residents calling Lazlow about nonsense. It's not really a commentary on anything other than the strange nature of local talk radio, the oddballs who call in and the ludicrous commercials I feel like I hear in every airport taxi after I land in the US. It's a far funnier and more specific target than politicians or technology companies.
"If you'd seen what I've seen, and you'd heard what I heard, you'd never brush your teeth again," calls in one guy about a conspiracy involving toothpaste. "Everyone knows women are made from sand," says another. Meanwhile, Lazlow shills shamelessly for pharmaceutical companies, interviews a 'love guru' who hasn't paid his advertising bills and occasionally pauses for Kyle MacLachlan's Donald Love to make it clear you're listening to a Love Media station. I love Chatterbox, and wish all of GTA's humour-centric radio stations had a similar tone. —Samuel Roberts
Fallout 3's Enclave Radio
There's something so unsettling about Enclave Radio's constant propaganda from 'president' John Henry Eden (played by Malcolm McDowell), interspersed with tracks like 'Stars and Stripes Forever'. I feel like having it on enhances Fallout 3's bleak tone, and creates a sense of foreboding ahead of your inevitable meeting with Eden at the end of the game. When it comes to scene-setting, this did a lot of the hard work for me in Bethesda's RPG, and guiltily, I probably listened to it more than Galaxy News Radio. I just love the dystopian vibes. —Samuel Roberts
Fallout 4's The Silver Shroud
Radio stations feel like much more than an afterthought in Bethesda's Fallout games. Indeed, the broadcasts of The Silver Shroud, a pulpy radio show meant to evoke the likes of The Shadow, which first aired in the '30s, tie into what's probably my favourite Fallout 4 quest. You get to hear the shows themselves, then become the character at the centre of it all, patrolling Goodneighbor and righting wrongs (mostly by performing more wrongs with your weapons). —Samuel Roberts
Fallout 3's Galaxy News Radio
Galaxy News Radio, as well as playing the sort of contrasting cheerful old music that made the early Fallout 3 trailers so exciting, provides updates on the Capital Wasteland and your journey as a player through Three Dog. The choices of music are perfect for the player leaving Vault 101 for the first time, peeking over the ruined horizon and wondering what mutated beast will rush them next. —Samuel Roberts
GTA 5's Chakra Attack
To echo Samuel above, GTA radio skits often feel forced. But I reckon West Coast Talk Radio's Chakra Attack is an exception. Fronted by Ray De Angelo Harris, the talk show's fictional host haphazardly explores spirituality, relaxation and the concept of duality to hilarious effect. Harris is voiced by American actor, comedian and writer J.B. Smoove—who is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live and Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm.
For me, Smoove's voice alone is enough to make me giggle and his performance on Chakra Attack is as off-the-wall as it gets. —Joe Donnelly
GTA 5's Non-Stop Pop FM
From Vice City's Billie Jean, to Liberty City Stories' Ruff Ryders Anthem Remix and GTA 4's Flashing Lights, the Grand Theft Auto series has accrued a fair number of superb soundtracks. The fifth main series game's Non-Stop Pop radio station is however my favourite.
Hosted by Hollywood actress and model Cara Delevigne, 100.7 FM gathers Amerie—1 One Thing, Britney Spears—Gimme More, Corona—The Rhythm of the Night, Fergie—Glamorous, All Saints—Pure Shores, Cassie—Me & U, Modjo—Lady (Hear Me Tonight), and loads of other head-bobbing bangers. Check out the full tracklist here. —Joe Donnelly